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Holiday Hoopfest Scouting Notes
Meshu Negga, Cerebro Regional Analyst
The 3rd leg of Hoopfest Tour 2022 brought high-level basketball to the state of Utah, to the campus of Lehi High School. Holiday Hoopfest featured some of the senior class’s more talented players and top teams in the country.
The headlining game of the weekend featured star players representing two of the best teams in the country; Duncanville (TX) vs Notre Dame (CA). Both participated in the Hoophall West event in Phoneix two days prior, but still gave the audience in Utah a show.
From the onset, Duncanville’s suffocating defense was on display, not allowing Notre Dame to get into any rhythm; picking up full court, switching up defensively, and contesting everything. Despite many runs throughout the game from Notre Dame, Duncanville grabbed the lead early and never relinquished it. The final score was 94-77.
With the Arizona commit, KJ Lewis spearheading the defense, along with Ron Holland (Texas commit) and Kayden Edwards’s (2025) activity, they combined for 8 steals and a plethora of deflections throughout the game. Caleb Foster (Duke) finished the evening with 24pts but was 5/19 FG with 6 turnovers. His willingness to get downhill, play through contact and get to the free-throw line enabled him to find some semblance of rhythm, and go 10/10 at the line.
Gonzaga commit, Dusty Stromer, proved to be one of the better players on the court this night with 31pts, 4/9 3FG, and 6 REB. Standing at a legit 6’6, his size gives him the ability to take and make contested shots. Couple that with great feel and an underrated handle, he added 5 assists to his night and created more looks for his teammates.
Holland, a top 15 player in this senior class, inserted himself in the 2nd half offensively. He was able to put the ball in the basket in an assortment of ways; in the open court quickly turned defense to offense, breaking the paint finishing with a soft push shot, and grabbing multiple ORB for putbacks. Ending his night with an efficient 27pts (22pts in the 2nd half) on 11/14 shooting with 6 of 13 rebounds being offensive.
Kaden Edwards is the x-factor on this tough Duncanville team. The 6’2 shooting guard lived up to his rep and shot it lights out from 3. He went 6/10 from deep, stopping Notre Dame runs and adding to his team’s big leads. Where he showed me growth in his game tonight, was his ability to read defenses and execute quick decisions. He found open teammates and made on-time on-target passes. Edwards finished with 5 assists but more importantly displayed his ability to affect the game outside of shooting from deep.
Texas vs Utah
Holiday Hoopfest came out the gate with an OT thriller in its first game, featuring top guards in their respective classes. 2023 Wesley Yates of Beaumont United (TX) versus 2025 JJ Mandaquit of Real Salt Lake. This was a defensive battle where whoever went on a run last would come out with the win.
Real Salt Lake’s tough, team-first mindset is embodied by their sophomore floor general, JJ Mandaquit. His numbers this morning (9 PTS | 2/8 FG | 5/6 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 2 TO) don’t quite reflect the impact he has on this team/game. As a smaller less athletic guard, Mandquit kills you with his craftiness and simplicity in making the right reads/plays. He was able to beat his man off the bounce with a change of pace and jab/shot fakes, thus getting defenders leaning one direction and creating advantages he can exploit. In his matchup, JJ was giving up 4 inches and 30 lbs but took on the challenge of defending one of the senior class’s more prolific scorers in Wesley Yates. JJ’s unrelenting motor, great feet, hands, and IQ made it difficult for Yates to find offensive consistency all game; swiping the ball cleanly when exposed, baiting him into turnovers and bad shots. Despite Yates scoring 25pts, he was held to 7/23 from the floor.
Wesley came alive at the right time for his team in this game, helping go on a 9-2 run to draw even late in the 4th. When he decides to get to the basket using his size and good first step, positive things usually happen, creating shots or getting to the line. He was 9/11 on free throws, all in the second half, and pushed his team over the top in OT, 58-57. RSL seemed to be the warm-up for Yates, as he exploded in their second game vs another local foe Corner Canyon. He finished an efficient afternoon with 28 PTS | 11/16 FG | 2/5 3FG | 4 REB | 4 AST | 4 STL | 4 TO. His ability to score in bunches and varying ways was on display; pulling up in transition for 3, using dribble combo moves to create space for his mid-pull-up, or getting all the way to the rack and finishing through contact.
2023 Max Toombs of Corner Canyon (UT) led his team in this matchup with Beaumont United. Standing about 6’3, Toombs has a sturdy build, underrated speed and beats you with sound technique and savviness. In addition to his size and shiftiness, his tight handle allowed him to get to most spots this weekend. He is a plus shot creator that has an innate ability to draw fouls (going 9/10 on FTs), always giving him an advantage against undiscipline defenses. Although the game was not close (72-55 Final), Toombs's motor and competitive spirit never let up, finishing this game with 18 PTS | 4/9 FG | 3 STL | 4 TO.